Take Nichols ‘a human piñata’ to cops, says lawyer after seeing bodycam footage

crump nichols 2 abc ps

The video of Tire Nichols’ interaction with five Memphis police officers is “terrible,” “deplorable,” “heinous,” “violent” and “troublesome on every level,” Ben Crump, attorney for the Nichols family, said during a news conference. press. conference Monday after seeing the bodycam video.

The Nichols family, along with attorneys Crump and Antonio Romanucci, viewed the body camera footage Monday morning, facilitated by the Memphis Police Department and the Memphis city administration.

The arrest video was not released to the public.

“What was he in that he was helpless the whole time,” Romanucci said. “He was a human piñata to those cops. It was an unadulterated, brazen, nonstop spanking by this boy for three minutes.” Romanucci also mentioned that Nichols, who died on Jan. 10, was kicked during filming.

According to Nichols’s mother, Rowvaughn Wells, he was 2 minutes from their home when he was pulled over and less than 80 meters from the house when he was pulled over by officers.

Rowvaughn told Steve Osunsami of ABC News that he was unable to watch the entire video.

“As soon as the video started and I heard my son’s voice, I lost it. I couldn’t stay in the room. All I heard him say was, what did I do? And once I heard that, I lost control,” she said.

Crump and Romanucci said the footage shows Nichols did not originally run when approached by officers and told them “he was just trying to get home” from FedEx, where he worked, and yelled for his mother three times at the end of the video. .

“Our son ran away because he feared for his life,” said Rodney Wells, Nichols’s stepfather. “He didn’t run because he was trying to get away with drugs, guns, none of that. He ran because he was scared for his life. And when you watch the video, you’ll see why he was scared for his life.”

The family said they saw the officer kick, pepper spray and use a stun gun on their son as Nichols repeatedly asked, “What did I do?”

“They handcuffed him and put him in the car. And when he went down, they told him ‘sit down,’ Rodney told ABC News. “You know, and he’d fall over again and they’d make him sit down. They never provided any help.”

Rowvaughn Wells spoke through tears at the press conference, remembering what a good boy her son was and demanding justice after his death.

“We will get justice for my son Tire, even if it’s the last breath I take,” she said.

Nichols died on January 10, three days after he was pulled over by police for reckless driving. He was hospitalized in critical condition after complaining of shortness of breath during his arrest.

The Memphis man had Crohn’s disease and was suffering from severe weight loss, according to his family. Nichols’ appearance at the hospital was emotional for his parents.

“When I walked into that hospital room, my son was already dead,” said Rowvaughn Wells.

The Memphis Police Department announced on Friday that it had fired the five officers, all black, involved in the incident, concluding the department’s internal investigation.

The officers were identified as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith.

Officers who were fired after their involvement in a traffic stop that ended in the death of Tire Nichols, in an undated combination of photographs in Memphis, Tennessee. From left: Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Bean Tadarrius.

Memphis Police Department via Reuters

The police were in vehicles during the approach, although some vehicles were not marked, according to the family’s lawyers.

Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy told ABC News they are investigating possible criminal charges against the former officers. The family said they expect a murder charge to be issued.

The video is expected to be released this week or next, according to an official statement from the Shelby County District Attorney’s office released on Monday.

“Transparency is a priority for the Public Ministry and we understand the public’s desire for immediate release. However, it is important that the release does not jeopardize the investigation,” the statement said.

The FBI and the Department of Justice continue their coordinated investigations into the death of Tire Nichols alongside the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office.

Crump and Romanucci announced that they will conduct their own civil investigation.

Nichols’s death caused the Memphis community to protest, with citizens demanding public release of the body cam footage.

“Whatever it takes to clear my son’s name and get justice for him,” Rodney Wells told ABC News. “If they need to keep the video for two more weeks, let them keep the video for two more weeks.”

The former officers and the police union did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment.

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